UK Politics

MPs 'should tweet about House of Commons debates'

Twitter symbol
Image caption Parliament authorities are no longer in a flap over the use of Twitter during proceedings

MPs should be able to use Twitter to send out updates of Commons debates, the authorities have recommended.

But devices such as smart phones and iPads must be employed "with decorum and regard for others", the Commons Procedure Committee warned.

In January, a deputy speaker told MPs that Twitter was banned in the chamber.

The committee recommends a U-turn, despite some MPs seeing it as a "threat to the dignity" of Parliament. A Commons vote is expected on the issue.

The committee's ruling comes after several politicians, particularly some of those elected in 2010, started using the social networking site to publicise goings-on in Parliament.

If the proposal receives backing, MPs will be allowed to tweet from the chamber for the next year, with the situation being reassessed after that.


The committee's report says that 225 MPs use Twitter and that journalists are able to use it to give instant updates on proceedings while watching from the press gallery.

It argues: "Tweeting about proceedings from the galleries is in our view no different in degree from presenters commenting on live broadcasts of proceedings or indeed from tweeting or blogging about proceedings when watched from outside the chamber.

"Whilst tweeting from inside the chamber is clearly a more sensitive matter, we consider that it would be inconsistent to ban this one practice whilst advocating the approach based on decorum rather than activity which we advocate in this report."

It also says: "The use of Twitter by Members is very popular and its use in the chamber or Westminster Hall has caused comment from Members themselves and from the public.

"Many different views have been expressed, from those who believe that it is a threat to the dignity of parliamentary proceedings to those who argue that it brings Parliament to a whole new audience."


It concludes that it "has to be acknowledged that electronic devices are ubiquitous now in a way that even four years ago was not the case".

"Banning them from the chamber might make the House appear out of touch with modern life and would mean that those in the chamber would be the last to know of breaking news widely available on the internet.

"We therefore conclude that Members should be allowed to use electronic hand-held devices for any purpose when in the chamber whilst not speaking, and that the current ban on the use of hand-held electronic devices as an aide memoire, whilst speaking in a debate, should be ended."

In January, Deputy Speaker Lindsay Hoyle said MPs ought not to "be tweeting from the chamber to let the outside world know what is going on".

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